Casshern Sins is not for everyone. The show pretty much moves at one pace, and that pace is ’slow’. There is a lot of silence, introspection, and philosophical dialog. Ordinarily, this would make one assume the show is pretentious (especially since it has a lot of similarities to Texhnolyze), but it really isn’t. Casshern has a very simple plot, very simple dialog, and is easy to understand, so people looking for a mind-blower won’t find it here. The plot and messages of Casshern Sins are much more along the lines of Kino’s Journey or Mushi-shi. However, just like action fans will be turned off by
the slow pace, fans of more quiet, contemplative anime might be turned off by the fact that there is at least one fight scene per episode and they can at times be lengthy. So the niche here is kind of small, requiring that you like a good variety of styles. I happen to fall into that niche.
Like most good shows, Casshern is amazing in a number of areas and wouldn’t be the same without any of them. The soundtrack, voice acting, animation, directing, fights, dialog, art - everything aligns just right to create a show that is just about perfect for what it is. I’ll be getting into detail on that now.
Casshern Sins has a very powerful and gripping soundtrack composed by Kaoru Wada (Princess Tutu, Tekkaman Blade, To Heart). The songs are all symphonic, ranging from minimalist and pretty to towering and sinister. The loud songs are very intensely dramatic and dark to the point that some (like the first track Sins) sound outright evil. (Interestingly, that song sounds like the symphonic version of an Opeth song.) The calmer songs are usually very airy and often acoustic-guitar driven. They definitely evoke images of Casshern’s world where you’ve heard them in the background. While either type is great, I prefer the calm songs if only because the more dramatic ones would go better with the show.
There is something very mysterious but also very charming about these calmer songs. They bring a sense of wonder mixed with familiarity. It’s a sense like seeing something totally new, but so enthralling that it feels like home. The ultimate song that captures this feeling is ‘Memory Past’ which is the song that usually played whenever Casshern met someone new and learned their story. The closest real musical comparison I have for this OST is the music in Phendrana Drifts in Metroid Prime which has always been some of my favorite composition. In the context of the series, all of the songs work superbly well to add ten extra layers of tone onto the already tone-tacular series. The music is notable straight from episode 1, which I guess it’d have to be to make me go and find the OST.
In addition to the OST, there has been a Best Theme Collection from this series. The show has one opening theme (Aoi Hana by color bottle) and 3 endings (Reason by KANA, Aoi Kage by Otoya Kichiemon, and Hikari to Kage by Kuno Shinji), the second of which is only used for one episode. The best theme collection has the op and main eds in TV size, several instrumental versions of Aoi Kage, two original tracks by Wada Kaoru, two important vocal insert songs from te series (Sky and A Path by Nami Miyahara who voices Lyuze), and finally, both the original Tatakae! Casshan! theme and a new, heavy version of the song by Otoya Kichiemon.
I personally didn’t care much for the 2 main eds, but I found myself completely unable to skip the op for even one episode. It is easily one of my favorite opening songs in a while. Aoi Kage and the modern Tatakae! Casshan! are both awesome because they manage to play heavy metal acoustics. Anything that can do that is automatically awesome. The old-school Tatakae! Casshan! is the ultimate great touch for lovers of old-school tatsunoko songs. However, great as that all is, Sky and A Path were the real reasons I was interested in this release. These songs made episode 8 of the show amazing and reappear at many great moments later in the show. Both are extemely pretty and wonderful, and Nami Miyahara’s English is excellent (evidently she studied English in Australia).
It’s worth making the statement that Casshern Sins has some of the coolest sound effects ever. The effects during fights are visceral, intense, and completely full of impact. Care was taken to make the sound effects just right and give every hit that needed extra edge. I’m thinking that they made a lot of the effects in the studio, seeing as there were very organic sounds of like pots breaking or the creak of metal. It’s pretty rare I think these days for so much craft to go into sound effects in anime, so it’s pretty notable when it does.
As far as voice acting goes, this show amassed a royal fuckton of talent. Being as there were so many minor characters, a lot of voices were required, and Madhouse didn’t skip out on giving every single character a standout voice. For starters, Casshern himself is voiced by Tohru Furuya (certainly most notable as freaking Amuro Ray, as well as Tuxedo Mask, Pegasus Seiya, and Yamcha) which is a very interesting performance. The voice of Casshern is certainly unique, sounding strong but never stern, and in pain but never really weak. The voice adds a lot of mystery to the character, sounding like the robot he is, who doens’t quite understand emotion even though he seems to feel it. The best part though is his wails in agony which are used frequently when Casshern’s body self-repairs. That dude’s wails are frightening.
Nami Miyahara plays Lyuze with the perfect mixture of resolve, confusion, rage, and love. Like Casshern, hers is a very distinct voice. Yuko Minaguchi (Videl - Dragonball, Yawara, Akiko - Kanon) does a completely superb job as Ringo. She should be cast as every single little kid in anime. I’ve never heard a kid voice that managed to sound young and yet in no way annoying. Best kid voice ever. ‘Cho‘ reprises his role as every old man in anime, lol. Akiko Yajime (Diva - Blood+, Shin-chan, Relena Peacecraft, Kuu - Haibane - damn that’s range) brings her mysterious voice to Luna which tricks you with it’s very regal sound until you start to see another side… well that’s a spoiler. Kenji Utsumi (Shenlong - DBZ, Zodd - Berserk, Lt. Armstrong - FMA) is Braiking Boss who he played in the old version of the show as well, bringing a nostalgia factor.
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Who is in everything. His list is totally nuts.) is awesome as Dio. He plays the perfect rival character. His voice has a darkness to it, but not like an evil bad-dude, more like a man driven by dark purposes but full of resolve, which Dio is. Mami Koyama (Lunch - Dragonball - yes, most of the cast worked on Dragonball, Balalaika - Black Lagoon) brings the thunder as Leda who is convincingly evil and conceited, but also has an inner emotional side. Some of my favorite minor character performances include Mami Koyama’s second roll as Lizbell in episode 7 (which is interestng because Koyama is Tohru Furuya’s ex-wife, which when you think about it makes certain scenes very awkward), Tomoko Akiya whose performance as Sophita is borderline creepy and very fun, and Taeka Kawata who plays Nico, the little girl whose brain has been fried.
Casshern Sins is animated by Madhouse. The dudes who brought you (alphabetically) Black Lagoon, Boogiepop Phantom, Death Note, Dennou Coil, Gunslinger Girl, Nana, everything Satoshi Kon, Texhnolyze, Trigun, and X, just to name a few. If you’ve seen none of those, I’ll just say it - they have incredibly high production quality and have been around forever. To give you an idea of how high their budget is, the first half of Casshern Sins aired simultaneously with three other Madhouse shows, the second half with one, all of which had unfaltering high-quality animation throughout. There is pretty much no other studio who can do something like that. So it really comes as no surprise when I say that Casshern Sins has incredibly beautiful animation.
The most instantly and consistently notable thing about Casshern’s art is the luscious backgrounds. The background art is almost incomparably beautiful - almost. Probably only one show matches up to it, it being Mushi-shi, which is why it’s no surprise that Yoshihiko Umakoshi was the art director and character designer for both series (a dual job he’s done for Zipang, Street Fighter Alpha, and Boys Over Flowers, none of which I’ve seen. He also did it for Air Master which doesn’t matter because that show is fugly, probably thanks to budget.) I’ve actually watched an interview with this guy on one of the Mushi-shi DVDs and while he is very boring to listen to, I do remember him saying that he was a perfectionist and would always stress that there be boatloads of detail in the backgrounds, which I guess he’s still up to.
Casshern’s art is almost always barren, lifeless, and cold. The world of Casshern faces ruin (basically, apocalypse) and so there is little life to be found. The landscape is jagged and covered in large mountains, hills, valleys, craters, and deserts of sand and snow. Remnants of civilization can be found, some cold cities have buildings that still tower while others have fallen apart and buildings have become decrepit husks. Some places have become so dry and ruined that the ground has actually crystallized and cracks under every step. Occasionally, though, there are places of lush, brimming life to be found. Secret gardens surviving in caves or wellsprings and oceans. There is definitely a sense of mystery to the world that you can find anything if you look around enough. And, as a character in one episode teaches Casshern, every place in this world is beautiful. As a big fan of dystopic art, I found myself completely enraptured in these wastelands as much as I was mystified by the lush outcropping of life in unexpected places.
Umakoshi’s character designs are drop-dead gorgeous. It takes skills to make a masked superhero with a big red C on his chest and ornamental horns on his helmet fit into a dark, somber setting. But, somehow, he’s done it. Casshern looks like a badass but also looks like he fits into the setting. He is supposed to be a beautiful person, and it’s certainly visible in his design. All of the characters are very tall and lanky, almost like CLAMP designs, but have an added sharpness to them and are actually consistent. I can easily call them some of the best character designs I’ve seen in anime.
What’s most impressive, though, is that a definitive 70s style remains ingrained into the designs. Every one has absurdly big hair and their facial features are very old-school. However, these elements have been perfectly crafted so that the designs still look modern and not ridiculous as they often do when new shows try to use old style. The robots especially represent the old school with their very basic designs, but they have a bloodthirstiness about their designs that makes it unsurprising when they are killing machines. Overall, I’d say my favorite designs from the series were definitely Lyuze and Luna.
Naturally, since this is Madhouse, there are also plenty of exemplary animation techniques. Unfortunately, ANN doesn’t have any animators listed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hiroyuki Imaishi’s (director of Gurren Lagann and animator of all those wacky scenes in shows like FLCL, Mahoromatic, and even FullMetal Alchemist) name ended up on that list since his trademark over-the-top and hyperactive style is used in many of the fights. The show features a lot of ‘sketchy lines‘ and badass shadow effects. The fight scenes often contain mind-blowing animation tricks that will make people who notice these things cream a huge load.
I think that series director and storyboarder Shigeyasu Yamauchi probably had the biggest impact on the way this series turned out. As you can see on his ANN page, he directed a bunch of the Dragon Ball/Z and Saint Seiya movies and had involvement with their main series (and going by their ANN pages, he would have had experience with nearly all of this show’s seiyuu during those times). The experience with those series can be seen heavily in the fight scenes. When Casshern and Dio fight, nearly every strike rockets someone into a wall which explodes just as the other fighter shoots at them like a bullet for the next blow. There are several scenes where the ground around Dio craters under the sheer fluctuation of his power. Yamauchi definitely wanted to bring the scope and intensity of a DBZ fight to this series, which is something I personally have always wanted to see done in a serious anime. It is made a thousand times better by the huge budget of the show which allows the fights to look amazing, cool, and fluid.
Yamauchi definitely has a great sense of dramatic cinematography. Every shot is carefully composed to look as cool as possible, with characters nearly always in some kind of dramatic pose and the light hitting them just right. This is taken to an almost hilarious extent in some of Casshern’s fights against robot armies because he will literally attack them by kind of jumping at them, striking an epic pose, and somehow causing them to explode. Lighting is impeccable and the use of color is very important. Most of the show has a sort of blue and grey hue to it, but when other colors appear they are striking and noticeable against the backdrop of blue. Overall, I think Yamauchi just does a splendid job and probably had a lot of fun with it.
The overall plot in Casshern Sins is so simple that I could detail the whole thing thoroughly in a small paragraph (but I won’t for spoilers’ sake.) The show’s focus is more on the themes that drive the series and the characters representing or interacting with those themes. That said, while the plot is simple, it is very well-presented and interesting, making it a great driving force for the action and themes.
All of the show’s themes relate directly to the conflict between life and death. The dark, barren world of Casshern is on it’s way to ruin and death is ever-present. Every person is directly grappling with death and the end of the world, and those who don’t die just from the ruin usually die at the hands of other robots, especially if they try to attack Casshern. There are few characters who survive their own episode, much less the whole show.
What Casshern, who is immortal, learns in his travels through the dying world is how death effects different people (usually robots). Most of the world desperately clings to life. The strong robots fight and kill each other constantly to steal each other’s parts and try to prolong their lives. The weak search for any means of survival, clinging to little hopes or loosing to despair. Some merely accept the ruin as pleasantly as they can, but more often than not they will turn from this mindset at the slightest sight of hope - namely, the supposed immortality that one will gain if they devour Casshern.
However, not everyone is desperately clinging to life. Casshern encounters some robots and humans who aspire to something without the fear of death. Some teach him that the world is beautiful even in ruin, that there is hope in the world, or that they can live forever in the things that they leave behind. Casshern’s conflict becomes whether or not eternal life is justified or death necessary. He is torn between the sadness of death and the liveliness brought out by it’s presence.
The themes of each episode are interesting and deep, sometimes moving, and more so as they culminate into the over-arching theme. Casshern, as a stark contrast to the world around him that he desperately tries to understand, makes for the perfect receptacle to these themes.
Casshern Sins features surprisingly complex main characters in light of it’s simplistic plot and usually episodic nature. Casshern himself starts off as basically a blank slate with no memories and only knowledge as far as he learns from others. As he experiences the world, he has to weigh his experiences against each other to figure out his own beliefs. His character is kept interesting by the conflicting ideas he develops in relation to those experiences.
Lyuze’s conflict is between her desire to kill Casshern because of him ruining the world, effectively killing her sister, and her growing care for him and changing perception of the world. Casshern’s first companion, Friender, has some pretty great development considering that he is a robot dog who cannot speak. Friender’s emotions are represented through actions, and in those actions we see how he slowly transitions from hating Casshern to trusting him and eventually both protecting him and keeping him under control.
Without spoiling, the villains, Leda and Dio, have their own interesting development. Dio has dreamed of nothing but killing Casshern, while Leda is using dio to try and make the world her own. Each of them is thoroughly explored and developed. Luna, Oji, and Braiking Boss are also great characters with a lot of development, but those are spoilers.
There are a whole plethora of minor characters, most of whom appear just for one episode. Every one of these characters feels alive - they don’t merely expunge their beliefs onto Casshern, but show him the way that they live (or, of course, die) through their actions. Characters come in all variety of personality, shape, and size. (inside joke) Casshern could be said to have the best pseudo-harem since Ginko from Musi-shi.
Casshern Sins is episodic much in the same sense as Cowboy Bebop. The chains of episodic parts are broken up by plot-related episodes, the major characters get their own introspective episodes, and the last group of episodes form the conclusion. There were a couple of less-than-amazing episodes (I remember finding 15 and 16 a bit boring and 21 is kind of ill-done but the next episode justifies it) but otherwise, every episode was great.
All of the plot episodes were superb, especially whenever Casshern and Dio fought, which was always quite epic. Besides the wonderful climactic episodes, I pretty much had 4 favorites. Episode 7, where a woman in a high tower teaches Casshern about the beauty of this ruined world - Episode 8, where a woman wants to spread hope through her song - Episode 12, where a man tries to paint his city his color so that the world will remember him - and Episode 18, and excellent cuckoo nest episode into Lyuze’s psyche.
As I stated in the beginning, Casshern Sins is definitely not for everyone. If you like all kinds of anime regardless of genre and are easily interested in something without it having to be fast-paced, Casshern may be for you. If you’ve always wished that the philosophical plots of pretentious anime would mix with the good fun and awesome fights of shounen action, Casshern may be for you. However, if slowness leaves you bored or action leaves you disinterested, you’ll want to stay away. For me, the show was everything I could have wanted and filled a niche that I’ve long waited for an anime to fill.
I started watching this anime, giving it a starting 6/10. I was up to a 9/10 within the first 7 episodes. Does that say something?
I am pleased to say that it says a lot. Casshern Sins is what looks like the most original anime of the Spring 2008 lineup, and while it may be sad, it is truly amazing to watch. (This review will update as the series goes on, if all goes well ;D)
Casshern does not know if he is a man, robot, or neither. In a world of destruction, where humans are rarely found and the last of the robots rust, Casshern
wanders, trying to discover his true self. If you exclude the amnesia cliche, the story is very original and engaging. You feel Casshern's emotions, you feel that somehow he has changed throughout his unknown ordeal, and you feel his sadness and frustration at his inability to control his primal instincts. As he wanders, he encounters many new things, all of which get him closer to discovering the truth of his world. The pace is somewhat slow in the beginning, but it gets quicker and stays generally understandable.
This is where Casshern Sins truly shines. The animation is amazing to watch, it's fluid, smooth, and elegant. The battle scenes are works of art, and it seems like the animation staff is always excited to draw new panels instead of reusing the old ones again and again. The landscapes look fabulous, and draw the viewer deeper into the sadness and depression in Casshern. Everything is drawn and animated beautifully; this series is almost a must see just for the animation. The best part is that 11 episodes into the anime, the animation crew still has not cut any slack on this wonderful series.
The theme song is pretty good, the ending is also above average. Nothing super superb here, but the music is engaging enough to draw you into the anime and feel the emotions of the characters. The ED is a "hopeful" song, one that leaves you with the right emotion instead of destroying the ending mood with a happy go lucky ero ero ending... just what we don't need. Luckily Casshern Sins doesn't do this, and the background music is above average as well. Nothing super special here, but its definitely not bad.
Casshern is somewhat cliche in his amnesia-but-wanting-to-do-good act, but it definitely works well for this anime. The characers around him are very unique as well, and all of them have some sadness that they share with Casshern and different ambitions. The way the characters interact is very realistic, and there's not so many characters that you start getting confused. Casshern Sins does a good job of introducing the characters and letting you get to know them well.
Promising series from what I have seen so far. I definitely reccomend checking Casshern Sins out if you're looking for something unique. It is a somewhat depressing anime at times, but it is meant to be saddening, so make sure that you watch something lighthearted afterwards. Unless you absolutely love the plot and characters, in which case I've done my job well :) I suggest you give this one a shot; you may find something you really like.
What would you do if you couldn't change your fate? Would you grasp at any slither of hope that presents itself, even if that hope required you to hurt someone else? Or would you accept your fate? Just letting it pass over you? This is one of the many questions that Casshern Sins asks. "What is the answer" you might wonder? Well, let us sit down together and discuss it shall we.
Casshern Sins is a remarkable feat, in that it somehow captures every single, minute detail of the human spirit. It achieves this by starting from the very basics and quickly developing on the basics
as the series moves on.
One thing that really took me in, is how Casshern Sins truly captured my fear of death. It achieved this through an odd but clever display of writing, by showing us that even the machines that we make will some day fall into decline as rusting scrap metal.
I for one like to identify myself through the materials that I collect and make, and even this review right here is constructing another aspect of myself. Casshern Sins asks, what is the point of all this? I believe the materials that remain after my death will serve as a reminder of my existence, but nothing can escape the harsh reality of time and a millenium from now, it is an almost inescapable fact that those materials that I had so carefully constructed, so thoughtfully made, will just vanish. It is quite frightening and puts true emphasis on the word death.
Things change however, a chance of hope comes along. An ideal that preserves life, immortality.
Many religious affiliations pervade Casshern Sins series. God from the perspective of Catholicism promises a chance of eternal life, I make this comparison as Sins as a robot stands as a metaphor for this deity, a promise for immortality. Building on that concept, the precious beautiful skin of his body only serves to emphasize the prize of such a trait, but being immortal comes at a price. A price that one may not expect. As time wears on, one discovers an infinite sea of potentials, this quest to transcend the boundaries between being just a simple robot engineered to destroy, to becoming 'human', not physically but consciously has begun, but once this has been achieved. Who is left to bear witness it? Even though this concept and theme is not exactly original, it must be said that Casshern Sins is particularly noteworthy on how it manages to effectively show this journey of emotional discovery in every excruciatingly painful detail.
Watching this show reminded me of Paulo Coelho's quote "It is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary" and it is the simple things in life that Casshern Sins detaches from and allows us to witness as realistically as possible; both the efforts and dramas to recapture these important and sometimes trivial things, but it is these aspects that only elevate the potency of Sins journey. Even when the helping hand of a loyal friend may seem far away, capturing that relatable and simple essence of loneliness has rarely ever made such a profound impact.
A negative aspect to the story can largely be centered on the extremely pessimistic nature of the series and it can arguably fall into the category of angsty melodrama rather than insightful, and many of the concepts that are brought up through the entire series can come across as completely redundant by the series conclusion simply because of the handling. One scene that I wanted to bring up in particular is a scene where a robot finally submits to her desire of wanting to be immortal after reflecting for an entire episode that she wants to die naturally. Whilst it was certainly a powerful scene at the time, thinking back on it, the series only seems to want to be as depressing as possible. Whilst this isn't always a bad thing, it comes across as forced, and lacks a level of fluidity.
However, with those observations out of the way, it still can't be dismissed that the overall series has very solid writing and is riveting in how it plays out. Never failing to provide a delicate balance of answers to the many questions that the series asks.
Much of Casshern Sins' characters are truly integral to the story that the show is telling, and because of the theme heavy story in respect with the series episodic nature. It is only inevitable that many new characters are constantly introduced in order to represent another aspect of a philosophical question/s that the series imposes. A lot of the characters become representations for the themes of mostly hope and despair, but entangles within many varying levels of regret, remorse, guilt, jealousy, occasional romantic struggle and sometimes optimism.
Considering the series episodic nature, a large majority of the episodes do an absolutely splendid job of building characters in such a short time and it is a truly commendable aspect because at times I was almost pushed to tears in some of the more powerful episodes. Saying that, I will have to discredit some of the episodes for having an inconsistent quality, this inconsistency is mostly due to the characters that are being presented, but for the most part the character development is well above average and occasionally phenomenal but these cases are few and far between.
I can only appreciate the characters so far though, because as I said previously there is a varying level of quality in the development of many of the characters, another problem I had with the characters is that many of them have very similar intentions throughout the entire series, it can get a little repetitive at times. Adding onto that; some characters only seemed to be placed there to plunge Sins into a more intense state of guilt and regret. Even though this can be perceived as a problem. The fact remains that this can be ignored to an extent because these characters show that this the series is remaining true to the premise that it has given and does not cop-out, even at the moments when the series becomes unbearable.
Many of the motivations for the characters are understandable, as a dying breed of life suffering from an incurable disease; I imagine it would only be natural for someone to carry out desperate measures when they have been pushed to their breaking point. This is one theme that Casshern Sins portrays better than anything else.
The series artwork does nothing but do what it sets out to do, abysmal and ruined, wrapped up in an unusual mixture of bluish-greyish brownish textures that builds the apocalyptic landscape with powerful ease.
The series takes time to build on its own sorrow in order to emphasize some lovely landscapes that capture the quintessential and brooding style that is reminiscent of an Edward Hoppers painting, two that come to mind are "The Lighthouse at Two Lights", and "Screaming Monkey Drive In", pleasant to look at but cringing with a landscape of heart-ache and desperation.
Much of the animation is carefully designed. One noticeable moment was a touch of rust painted below the eye-line of a robot. The moment was heart-breaking and is something that took me by absolute surprise. Rust is deterioration and its symbolic connotation within this scene was used to its utmost potential.
I always look forward to bear witness to the fascinating ideas of art that series from Madhouse Animation studios have to offer and Casshern Sins is a beautiful edition to the collection that is sure to become an influence in the future.
One thing I noticed about the OST was the consistently monotonous style across the board. Which certainly works in the series favor, but a couple of tracks stood out for me: the first one being "Roamer" as it captured the image of one man, simply standing a-top a hill graced in a red sunset, contemplating as to where his feet will take him next, it's a classic pose and one that holds much weight.
The second one was "Memory Past", I'm not entirely sure what it was about this track but it just pushed a button in me. It was like I was floating in a sea of water feeling the waves softly carrying me. An interesting perspective to say the least, but I couldn't help picturing myself as a robot resting in the sand of the shallows feeling the water brush over me. It was a vivid moment, and a beautifully foolish one, it is simply a moment of passing time awaiting the day of no-return.
At the time of watching this series. I think I was in the exact state of mind that was required to enjoy Casshern Sins and I finished it up in a marathon sitting. I tend to love a nice happy show as much as the next fellow but my thirst for drama can be over-bearing at times and Casshern Sins knew how to keep me glued to the couch. I was engaged with every detail that was playing out before me and every bit of terror, every moment of blissful decadence only served to invoke a greater emotional response from me. Those special moments of heart-ache scattered throughout, only serves my interest as keeping Casshern Sins as a worthy investment of my time for years to come.
From what has been discussed I believe that Casshern Sins is a fantastic work, capturing every rigid emotion of the human spirit and melding every element so effectively. Constantly serving as a reminder to the breadth of questions that have been brought up and sought after in this series. Deep, often beautiful questions that serves as a recipe for sympathy and empathy towards all its characters as you bear witness to there destruction.
I find it difficult to recommend this series mostly due to its overbearingly negative nature, and time has shown that not many people like pessimistic series. Nevertheless, for all of those out there who can withstand or perhaps immerse themselves in Casshern Sins battlefield of depression, they will surely find solace in the beauty of its melancholy.
Casshern… a series reboot of the original Shinzou Ningen Casshern back in 1973. Of all the new shows this season, I think this one is my favorite. Lets talk production values, people. I really enjoyed the OP and ED, I think they fit very well, and they have a nice melody. Music overall was certainly a strong point of the show. The BGM really fit well into the scenarios presented, and I think that they sound lovely as well. The animation is fluid, almost seamless, which goes along well with the simplistic character art and gorgeous post-apocalyptic backgrounds. The voices are another strong point.
Personally, I had a fangasm when I discovered with glee that Utsumi Kenji was reprising his role as Braiking Boss. I don’t think anyone else could have voiced him better than the original guy. The voice of Casshern was good too, and you can see the talent of Furuya Tooru. My only gripe in the entire show is Ringo. That little girl is kind of messed up looking. To quote Tenka Seiha, she looks like she’s going to devour Casshern. You can really see the connections to the old series. The robot designs are the same, but the coloring is gone, rusted and corroded due to the ruin. They are as cruel and heartless as they were in the first version too.
I’m really enjoying the plot. A fanboy like myself has been coming up with so many conspiracy theories about the plot, and links to the old show back in the 70’s. Hell, I typed a three-page bullet list on my theories. Leave me a comment if you’re interested. So Casshern wakes up from a hundred year slumber with no memories. All we know is that he killed Luna, and the Ruin (the apocalypse) was triggered by this event. Humans are now few and far between, being slowly killed by the poisonous air from the Ruin and Ringo even comments that she has not seen one. The robots don’t fair any better. The poisonous air is corroding and killing them along with the humans. Casshern kills a bunch of robots that think that they can end the Ruin and become immortal if they devour him. A strange woman appears, and notes the patheticness of the robots, then vanishes. We see that Casshern is wounded as well, and he screams. An old man, Oji, realizes that Casshern has awakened, and Braiking Boss tells him it is so. Casshern later meets a little girl robot named Ringo, and she comments that he is as pretty as a human. (In the original series, Casshern was originally a human who turned himself into a cyborg to combat the robot menace.) Ringo says she’s broken, Casshern says she’s not, Ringo gives him a shell and runs off. Casshern has a few flashbacks of when he killed Luna, and this causes him to freak out every so often. (These flashbacks helped fuel my theories too). Casshern, the super-hearing sexy devil that he is, hears her shells drop as she is attacked by a robot, and rushes to help her. He carries her to safety, then turns into badass mode. Glowing green-blue eyes, and combat ready. He brutally destroys the robot in retaliation for hurting Ringo, but in return, he makes Ringo afraid of him. Oji carries her off, voicing his disappointment in Casshern (which was one of my conspiracy flags, comment on my profile if interested.) The enigmatic female that showed up earlier and notes how brutal Casshern is, and that he disgusts her. He is the cause of the Ruin, and that is all she needs to know to hate him enough to want to kill him.
Overall, I’m in love with this show. The production value is incredible, the story is intriguing, and it made me, a fanboy, come up with theories of conspiracy with renewed vigor. I highly recommend this series to fans of the original show, superhero fans, fans of a dark story, and anyone in general. My overall score is 10/10.
Production done by Madhouse. Airs on Wednesday. Subs by Shinsen.
When it comes to an experimental anime like this, it’s quite difficult to give a conventional score. Even more so, Casshern Sins tends to polarize the audience into two groups: either calling it a work of art or being bored as hell by it.
Here’s a good test whether you may or may not like it.
Are you an anime fan one who:
A) Tolerates a continuously oppressively grim atmosphere and a snail-paced plot?
B) Forgives gaping plot holes for the sake of appreciating the heavy symbolism and existentialism?
C) Is fine with an acrobatic fist-fight for every single episode?
D) Doesn’t mind sparse dialogue, one-note and
melodramatic characters, and numerous silent introspections?
E) All of the above
If you picked choice E, the chances are in your favor and you may like this style over substance anime.
**No Spoilers really. And I’ll be vague in the analysis as for the most part, you should be the one doing that. Keep in mind, that it can be a depressing anime. **
Concepts, Character, Story-
It doesn’t have much of a plot but has some unique and interesting concepts.
The first half starts episodically, featuring heavily on the surrounding bleak world. Our main protagonist, Casshern, wanders around the barren wasteland and sees how the various humans and robots react towards this post-apocalyptic event that he caused. Suffering from amnesia, he intends to find answers in his placement for this world. Meanwhile, the second half starts explaining the mysteries of what occurs. But it never gets fully resolved and makes gigantic jumps in the narrative. There were sudden shifts in characterization and in the end, becomes incredibly ambiguous.
As for the cast of characters, “naturally wooden” would be the best way to describe them.
The main quintet of Casshern, Lyuze, Ringo, Ouji and Friender appear one-note and simple to evaluate. Their dialogue is sparse, often calling each other’s name many times or simply staying silent the entire time in an artistic way. Also, Casshern may seem also too melodramatic at first, but very slowly develops because of the other characters. The antagonists and robots (if I can even call them antagonists) have simple motives but gets confusing as it changes pace in the second half and stumbles itself near the end.
Regardless of their flat characterization, they give out further meaning towards this post-apocalyptic world in a crucial, yet subtle way. However, for Casshern Sins, it becomes a double-edged sword as non-recurring secondary characters of each episode suffer from redundancy. There are no surprises from seeing what may occur to them (it’s quite predictable and repetitive), but taken upon further necessary examination, they provide some heavy symbolism that manages to be new in its own right episodically.
In all, it depicts a metaphorical setting that not many anime generally would take. There are lengths for ambiguity for it and different interpretations on what they may mean. However, most of the themes are rooted in existentialism and the meaning of life.
Granted, despite its slow pacing and episodic format, I had to binge watch this over the course of 3 days as I’ll end up forgetting the impact of the setting and atmosphere.
Sound and Art/Animation-
As for the OST, Kaoru Wada made it seem like a déjà vu for his InuYasha’s OST. Seriously, I could replace some of the tracks and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. However, it does well to bring out the bleak aspects of the atmosphere and manages to blend into the ambiance. The opening “Aoi Hana” by Color Bottle has a catchy sound that I like but doesn’t fit well overall.
On the other hand, “A Path” sung by Nami Miyahara has some pretty good English pronunciations (even more so with the English version by Caitlin Glass) and bears weight to the overall themes to the anime. It’s very emotionally moving, but it noticeably gets repeated a couple times, though.
Voice acting for both English and Japanese carry out their part when necessary and manages to project the character's angst for catharsis. One thing that I may have overlooked would be the sound effects. The visceral crunches of the iron clad robots and the most minor of movements such as rustling fabric embellish the complexion of its environment even when dialogue remains tacit. And there are occasions of a show-and-don't-tell presentation.
When it comes visually, it does well for it. It’s Madhouse what do you expect.
The brown rusting of the robots gives a good contrast to the azure sky. The details are quite beautiful to gaze especially since not much else is going on. The specks of dust and other particles splinter into the air on many occasions and it's very aesthetically pleasing especially with the flora that sometimes gets presented.
Childlike character designs are juxtaposed towards its more depressing background. The contours are bold and sleek but details are quite simple. The animation features very solid figures with hand-to-hand combat, although I can’t help but easily see the numerous repetitions of each scene. I distinctly remember certain fights and robots being re-used. Because of these repetitions, it makes it feel even more monotonous. It's a bit unique though as choreographed scenes quickly pan to the smaller details of the area rather than focusing on the characters, having that elegant flair.
While certainly not the most high-budgeted and most amazing animation, its presentation and style is what makes work well for the atmosphere and the anime as a whole.
What made me enjoy this anime would be its world. The pacing is intentionally slow and not hamfisted with details, allowing for some thought-provoking ideas on existentialism to leak through. It establishes that ambiance and truly makes it a post-apocalyptic world. Because of this, even if I found many scenes to be melodramatic and not relatable, it manages to get me emotionally that some other anime can’t pull off.
It takes the conventional heroism where the main character is OP, and there are continuous strings of fights for a sense of justice. However, it subverts it as the fights are never thrilling, mostly everyone (including the antagonists) are victims of the decaying society, and the meaning to continue to pursue a goal is grimly lost as one mindlessly wanders around the world, knowing that he is different and must be alone as he loses everyone around him.
Once it starts trying to unravel its mystery, my focus shifted towards that and I was expecting some sort of large revelation that would solve everything. But it doesn’t. Near the end, the pacing speeds up, makes a large shift in unresolved details, and fizzles out in the end.
If I would make an analogy, it’s kind of like Ouji’s dilapidated jeep. It works well slowly, but when it puts the pedal to the metal and makes a large U-turn, the rusted parts start crumbling away because of the Ruin. At least there is still some meaning for that ending.
Overall- a mid-high 7/10 (Good, not average)
The flaws are apparent such as its monotonous pacing and unrealistic characters. If taken at face-value, this anime will be a terrible chore. This anime is not the most accessible as it doesn’t cater the audience’s general accustomed tastes. However, its quality is mostly based on the eye of the beholder through individual experience and appreciation for analyzing. If read in-between the lines in its atmospheric presentation, it will be a unique experience that few ever dwell upon.
Erected from the pillars that once cradled human civilization, the Robotic Empire reached its pinnacle under the iron-clad rule of Braiking Boss and the grace of the Sun that was called Moon. Then came the Ruin, and with it the end of those fabled days. Once thought immortal, the empire, its structures and citizens, and even nature itself into rust and decay and death. A landscape dotted with the deceased and dying, attributed to the sins of one machine... Casshern.
Directed by Shingeyasu Yamauchi, scripted by Reiko Yoshida and Yasuko Kobayashi, and produced by Madhouse, whose resume includes the popular Death Note, the recent Chihayafuru, the
somber Gunslinger Girl, and the short Death Billiards, Casshern Sins is a reboot of earlier Casshern franchises, Shinzou Nigen Casshern and Casshern: Robot Hunter. The old-school character design by Yoshihiko Umakoshi is meant to be a tribute to those earlier eras of Casshern and anime itself. This new reincarnation, however, takes more similarities in substance from, say, the Rebuild of Evangelion than the Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movies in that they both seek to tell their own separate tales. However, unlike the Rebuild of Evangelion, a copy and paste of personality and drive of its earlier counterpart, Neon Genesis Evangelion, this show hosts vastly dissimilar character backstories and motivations. Now, as grave his deed may be of killing Luna and, consequently, unleashing the Ruin, the Casshern the audience follows at the show's opening, as opposed to the Casshern of flashbacks, has no recollection of his deed nor much knowledge of the consequences of the devastation aside for the obvious absence of life from organisms and machines alike, hounded by hordes of robotic thugs wishing to consume his flesh so they can live forever, or so the rumor goes (a fallacious conclusion due to Casshern somehow gaining immortal himself) and Lyuze, a robot in the likeness of a woman, that seeks vengeance for his supposed crimes. Yes, robots are defined, in part, by gender. It's not for guttural reasons for once, mind you.
Consider the philosophical classification of being and personhood. Being refers to concrete qualities such as a blood vessel or a wired transistor, whereas personhood refers to more abstract qualities, yet qualities the majority of us can't deny doesn't exist, such as emotion, reason, and free will. Now, put aside any preconceived notions of mechanical agents save their hardware and understand that the robots in this setting are both beings and persons, much as humans typically are. Factoring the fact that a robot can exist indefinitely and coupling it with the effects of the Ruin, these elements are a conceptual build for this question: how would one react when suddenly confronted with the reality of mortality? It's something humanity has long since acknowledged, but robot-kind? What we have here isn't mainly sci-fi or action. People looking for primarily one or the other will be disappointed. Instead, we have life's meaning. If you're not interested in topics pertaining to existentialism, as too many people are unfortunately, then you might want to pass this show by. If you are, then, by all means... read on.
Casshern and ourselves ignorant of the Ruin, its effects on all persons, places, and things it encompasses, we learn about this destitute world's people as well as the world itself bit by bit through his eyes, his encounters. Each of these encounters follow an episodic format: the inhabitants of the hospice, the man who coughs blood, the angel of ruin, the maker of bells, the singer, the artist, etc. Some romantic, others tragic, still others enigmatic, but most... inspiring, and soon a theme takes shape. A matter of living vs. existing. Our female warrior confronts the same internal conflict in Episode 20, complete with a host of surreal spatterings. Kudos to Madhouse, or rather, some studio other than Shaft, for putting the effort to experiment, to challenge the bounds of what constitutes a meaningful visual experience. The more conventional visuals are excellent as well. The devastation of the Ruin and the traces of life in plants and people in between, already striking to the eye, become more poignantly bleak and beautiful in juxtaposition than they would otherwise. The same can be said of peoples' that have given in or carry on in the face of death and the way they carry themselves, whether on the move or in a fight, from clunky and cluttered, to impassioned and empowered.
With shows of episodic natures, specially ones that have more to do with observation than action, they can afford to take a few more liberties than would otherwise be acceptable. However, the conveniences have piled up in Casshern Sins to a point where they are too noticeable to ignore, particularly the frequency and timing of generic mobs assaulting Casshern and whatever company he keeps for generic reasons: misery loves company, and desperation begets savagery. It's not that these reasons aren't worthy for illustration, but they lose their impact when they become cliches. It gets tiring when the show has to resort to them to make a point. Devoid of much in the way of substantial variance, the fighting and imagery can get fatiguing, even if they aren't merely for the fighting and imagery's sake. I can only look at flowers and Casshern going apeshit on metallic husks for so long until I have to shout “I get it already!” to get rid of the frustration. The recurring cast too, for that matter. Then there are just moments where both feel out of place, particularly towards the end. Speaking of endings, the show decided to forgo episodic beginning at the half-way mark and finish plot-driven, namely, discovering how to end the Ruin. Unfortunately, plot-driven narratives permit far less wiggle room and require more solid development, and the content of before hadn't done much of a good trying to map out the developments of this overarching plot. The result toward the end were that certain mysteries from before were completely neglected and others after were suggested but forgotten or too ambiguous to really appreciate. New material is rammed in, scattered throughout, and resolved without enough time for it to settle and concentrate. Some developments occur that even within episodic paradigm are hard even for me to swallow, not to mention certain themes are just stabbed over and over like a mentally battle-scarred greenhorn trying to make sure his bloated, putrid husk of an enemy adversary is dead with his equally odorous bayonet. The time the show took toward overemphasize would be better served trying to address more pressing issues. And finally, the resolution that Casshern ultimately decides to act on, one of arrogance, is one that, given his journey and my convictions, leaves a foul taste.
The aesthetics for the OP “Aoi Hana” or “Blue Flower” by Color Bottle is mainly composed of a sequence of pictures of Casshern and Lyuze doing aloof poses. However, combined with the acute climb in musical intensity from rest, the images take a transitional quality, blurring the seams of stagnancy into motion, a blurred barrier between still artwork and animation frames, blurs of vocals. The music itself is comprised of a freewheelings of the drum set, electric guitar, and male vocals. They give off this air of freedom in how each of these parts, summed together, can so effortlessly careen in speed, volume, and dynamic. The OP and EDs have lyrics fitting for the subject of the show, but while the OP appears to mimic fits of passion, the EDs take on more subdued, reflective tones. That, of course doesn't diminish the enjoyment I got from either. The EDs for Episodes 1-12 and 14-23 are “Reason,” by K∧N∧ and “Hikari to Kage,” or “Light Like a Shadow,” by Shinji Kuno respectively. Both are pleasant, the former, upbeat and uplifting, the latter, dreamy and drifting. Episode 13 has a separate ED entitled “Aoi Kage.” While the rest of the OST excels in helping establish a tonally appropriate mood for each scene that it is present in, a noteworthy mention goes to the OST, “A Path,” by Nami Miyahara in the sub and Caitlin Glass in the dub. Sung by the main episodic one-shot character Janice in Episode 8, the number recurs throughout the series. If there's one factor that may lead one to watch the dub over the sub, it's that the English voice actor on this particular piece does a better job than her Japanese Seiyū counterpart. In addition to being fluent in the language that the lyrics for the OST was written in, namely, English, Glass just conveys more passion, more power, more consistency, more expression, more flourish into the words. In Episode 8, she works with the motions of her character as Janice has her moment on stage, whereas Miyahara work feels, comparatively, distant and disconnected.
Though distasteful the ending may have been received by me personally, I'm grateful toward the show and all its moments throughout its beginning three fourths worth of content, splayed out in those many encounters, those many moments, for taking on such a bold and contemplative topic in such an inventive and imaginative way.
I thought I would really like Casshern Sins, but this was a letdown of epic proportions. My original impression was that the Casshern character would be a modern day Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star, or something akin to it; a lone wolf hero trekking across the devastated wasteland to fulfill his purpose/clear his name/discover who he is. Any one of these would've been nice, but intsead of taking a plot synopsis as simple as this anime produces and making something good out of it, it fails to deliver on any conceivable level that would be considered quality entertainment.
Now this story
moves slow, I mean VERY slow, and this is the first noticable flaw of Casshern Sins. This is supposed to serve as dramatic build up, but the schitck wears thin after five episodes, and establishes nothing outside of what the audience already knows. The trick to telling a competent story is to offer mood and then deliver the plot, from there you move on to climax, as opposed to the 12 episode circle jerk the first DVD boxset provides. Calling it a story gives it too much credit, because it implys that anything thats taking place is going to lead somewhere. Humpty Dumpty has more plot cohesion then Casshern Sins because even this nursery rhyme managed to tell a decent plot offering a character (the Egg), the situation (a wall he wanted to sit on), the predicament (he fell), and a conclusion (he died). In Casshern, we get the egg beating up a bunch of rotten eggs and other eggs talking.
There's lots of dialouge, but I lost interest in anything ANY of these characters had to say by episode nine.
Which is Cassherns' other problem: Bland as hell, one demonsional lead characters. Casshern himself is a six page rant in itself, so I'll just summarize the point of my angst in regards to this character and others written like him: I HATE AMNESIA-STRICKEN ANIME LEADS! This is a cliche that's been done to death and I am sick of seeing every other title being bogged down by a main character with a gimmick thats been used to death by Hannah-Barbera in the sixties. Writing a character that doesn't remember anything excuses the author of having to make their hero develop in a chronological sense with the rest of the stroy because everything has to grind to a halt until he says, "OH YEAH, now I remember!" It's insipid and five out of every ten shows is almost guaranteed to use this stunt. As for Lyuze, she's even more worthless than Casshern himself. Her grief against him seems simple enough, but becomes insufferable as time goes on. How do have complex emotions about a guy who allegedly destroyed your past that borders outside genocidal rage?! It's ricidulousluy stupid character writing and diving into her psyche only shows just how egotistical and self-deluded this writing staff really was into thinking they were creating a philosophical masterpiece. The villians Leda and Dio add nothing at all besides generic obstacles who, from what I could piece together, fail as antagonists, and Ringo's only driven purpose is to chew up as much scenery as possible before the Ruin hits. The characters in this show are episodic.
The animation is impressive at first, but gets hammered into your brain with as many cluttered, over-choreographed fight scenes as any given episode of Bleach, and the fights are just as meaningless. If this show isn't talking your ear off, it's showing Casshern laying waste to every rejected Mega Man robot master fans submitted in to be put into a video game and nobody can lay a hand on him! This guy no-sells damage worse than John Cena!!
IN CLOSING: Not since RaXephon have I made it all the way through an anime that could've been promising if it had direction, likable characters, and wasn't so pretentious and long-winded in it's own bullcrap writing. Characters talk, dialogue goes nowhere, then they fight and fight and fight, then stop for more talking. Intrigue was lost halfway through and the climax was God-awful. I'm sorely disappointed that I spent money on this. I'm gonna go turn myself into a robot bell.
OVERALL: 3 out of 10
PROS: English dub isn't bad
CONS: Lackadasical writing, boring characters, repetitive BGM, everything else
To describe this anime in one word is simple: depressing. Casshern Sins follows Casshern--a character who doesn't know whether he is human or robot--in a dystopic world that is, quite literally, the end of the world. I don't mean it's some Armageddon-like atmosphere where some supernatural force is destroying everything; in this setting, the world is just dying. It is a barren wasteland where even robots, who are supposed to be immortal, experience death.
Of the nine episodes that I have seen so far, each episode follows a pattern: Casshern is wandering through his seemingly endless journey when he meets a new character. This new character,
just like every other being in that world, is suffering in some form from the ruin. But while this pattern detracts from the overall plot of the story (I don't need to provide it, you can read it yourself), it adds new perspectives. It goes to show how one worldwide trauma can separately affect different lives. It adds a new personal tale each episode that serves to constantly remind and torment Casshern of his sin. This increases his need for redemption and his need for finding the answers. One definitely cannot say by the end of this anime that Casshern receives no development.
But there are some recurring characters--particularly Lyuze, Ringo, and Oji--and their consistent interaction with Casshern is realistic, not to mention it provides some development for them as well.
The scenery is horribly lovely. There could honestly be no better way of drawing such a bleak setting than with the animation style that is used in this anime. There's just a quality to the art that makes this anime its own; an art that is both beautiful and upsetting. And the music, while repetitive, is fitting. I only gave Sound a 5 because of its lack of diversity, not because it doesn't work. (Of course, I could just be tone deaf and unable to decipher distinct soundbites.)
If anyone asked for my opinion of this anime, I would definitely recommend it. But I must also warn anyone who tries to watch it to keep a good couple years' supply of antidepressants handy, whether or not you're prone to manic depression.
Story: The story is a very thought-provoking and great examination of the value of truly living your life, as opposed to passing through it aimlessly. It is about an apparently immortal robot named Casshern, who after killing a woman named Luna, creates the Ruin, a plague that causes the world to die. All life has withered away, and any survivors are on the brink of insanity as they are surrounded by death. His journey to discover his identity and role in this new world causes the robots he comes into contact with to realize the value of our existances and their
thoughts on life itself. It is a very engrossing, thought-provoking story for everyone.
Art: The drawing style is very minimalist, but is works incredibly in the context of the world of ruin. Everything is very angular and colors are usually very muted. It helps to establish the world of Casshern as one that is both unique and memorable. This carries over into the fight scenes as well, where the fast movements really compliment the sharpness of the drawings to create a very visually exciting and energetic sense of combat. The art style really helps to bring all the themes of this universe and the intensity of combat into full fruition.
Sound: The music is very fitting. It's mostly sinister, ominous tones used to bring out the dread of the world at hand. However, many tracks bring out the small shimmers of hope Casshern and his friends encounter in a world governed by death. It is these tracks that really stand out to me personally as great compositional scores and pieces that really bring the main themes of the show to light. "A Path" stands out as one of the best songs in anime this year.
Character: All characters in this anime are fully-fleshed out and are all very important in the grand scheme of things. The character of Casshern is a great lead. Yes, his amnesia is a little generic in anime in general, but it never becomes a problem and serves to re-enforce the themes presented. Ringo is a great kid character, never annoying but still very childish. She also serves as a great motivator for everyone, always inspiring them to search for a better tomorrow even as the odds are stacked against them. Lyuze, Ohji, and Friender all serve as great lead characters that all contribute equally to the story at large. The villians are real showstoppers as well. Dio and Leda are a great duo that are full realized and make very worthy adversaries to Casshern's team. Braking Boss as well is a great sideline villian. He is a master manipulator that always gets other people to do his work for him.
Casshern SINS is a fantastic anime series that deserves your attention. The depressing atmosphere may turn off some people, and in the first half of the show its basically all one shot stories, but that's OK. Everyone else who sticks around will get not only an outstanding action anime, but an outstanding action anime that makes the characters and you the viewer think at the same time. It is truly a remarkable and unique show for the current generation of anime.
People who lose their memories of the past are almost always dying to get those back. They feel empty inside, as if something was taken out of them. Something irreplaceable... Is Casshern the same?
I think that this question kept running through the studio director's mind as he decided to take up an old project that was long lost and created its new version - Casshern SINS. The series is a 24-ep-long philosophic discussion on the sense of human nature and its everlasting need for self-improvement. Paradoxically though, there are very few humans in this distorted world. The entities who appear to be more humane
are... decaying and rusting robots...
The story keeps dwelling on the subject of coming of age and dying as well, as almost every robot out there is about to perish because the world has lost its only flower - Luna. And this aspect is staggering too. Every episode presents a different story with a different characters. Of course some stories intertwine to create a whole plot line, but mostly you will have to get used to one story-one ep form of the show. It remains that way till the very end. You'll also have to get used to a very slow pace. Noone is rushing nothing here. There are moments of complete silence (that is if you don't have a proper hi-fi and a blu-rau version) or a muttering sound of the wind rustling with the rocks, the sand and the water ocassionally. There are almost no plants in Casshern's world. Only rust, rocks and the remains of human civilization. This picture may sometimes get depressing, but there's not one thing in this show that would suggest that it should be different. But going back to the story, which is the main protagonist here...
As the show progresses many truths about the world are revealed. Some are universal and old-school viewers would get to those since episode one, and some are... impossible to comprehend at first. But once you reach the final episode most of those are cleared. And even in this distorted world, there is a place for family warmth and love. These two transcendental aspects of our nature will have their toll on Casshern, as he changes from ruthless and calm destruction machine into... a human, who no longer needs his past, and no longer needs Luna.
The characters are simply brilliant. Throughout the whole series you won't find a single persona that is boring or useless. Every single one of them is relevant to Casshern's journey towards the light. Every single one of them is a part of this world and adds up to the whole image. Despite all this, Casshern is alone. He may have a cybernetic dog called 'Friender' but it still does not account for a companion, although the dog seems to be more intelligent than its master at times. Likewise with the story, Casshern earns the trust of the two most important people he has met on his journey - the robot-girl I mentioned above - Ringo, and another robot-girl who seeks revenge on Casshern - Lyuze. You can easily guess now, who his family is...
I think I'll just pass through the video and audio aspect. Although both important, they had little influence on me, as the story kept me interested more and more. Of course, in an anime of this level those are splendid. The animation is perfect and smooth, and Casshern's bloody battles are impressive. The same goes for the audio part. If you have a good quality release and a hi-fi you can hear a lot more than you may think. The score is beautiful on the other hand, and I really loved the op and ed sequences.
So to sum it up. Casshern SINS is not an anime for everyone. Those looking for pure action and quick pace will quickly get bored and tossed away, despite the very good quality of art and music. Those longing for heart breaking experience and great story will love it all the way through, and those looking for a title to shed some tears on... it's for you as well.
I'm partially all those types mentioned, and I sincerely loved it. More than most other titles in 2008...
Early in Casshern Sins, a character makes this observation. It wasn't lost on me that Casshern Sins is full of seeming contradictions itself; the series features fast action and snail's-pace plot development, “oldschool” character designs presented with new technology, extreme violence and quiet speculation, and a tone that wavers schizophrenically between “uplifting” and “grim.” The end result is something unique enough to merit a cautious recommendation.
Casshern Sins centers around the titular Casshern—a character who wakes up on a barren futuristic world knowing nothing of his past. The only thing he seems to remember is how to brutally kill others; he only knows
his own name because it's what his enemies scream as they attempt to kill him. The world is ravaged by The Ruin, a plague that slowly destroys robots and humans alike. Casshern quickly learns that in the distant past he was responsible for killing Luna, a life-giving savior. Her death caused The Ruin. Burdened by this knowledge, Casshern attempts to navigate the unknown world while gradually learning more about his past, and the sins that he cannot remember.
The story itself is a strong one, with many intricacies that are revealed as time passes. Two stories are actually being told at once; one of the present and, indirectly, one of the past. The parallels between them drive the series forward with the feeling of a classic tragedy. “Complete amnesia” is a plot device that seems to be very popular nowadays, but this series manages to present a pretty original spin on it. It's not used for cheap emotional content. Instead, it's an integral part of establishing the plot. It allows other characters to show Casshern just what he did wrong, but since the explanation is actually a necessary one to get Casshern on the right track, it doesn't feel like needless exposition.
Thematically, Casshern Sins doesn't seem to be about sin/atonement (as the title suggests) but, rather, about life and death. Specifically, whether or not immortality would really be “worth it,” so to speak. In this world, robots and humans have been equalized by The Ruin—robots were once immortal, but now certain death lies on the horizon for both races, and how each party reacts to the looming threat is an integral part of the show. Some fight The Ruin, gratefully embracing any semblance of hope, while others give up entirely and await their end in silence. The series poignantly debates whether it's better to live in a calm eternity, like a placid lake, or to live a short but fulfilling life before succumbing to death, like a fire burning in the night.
Now, while I was a fan of the story and themes, it's tough not to be put off by the pacing of the show. For the first half of its running time Casshern Sins is episodic, meaning that each episode tells a self-contained story that's connected only loosely—if at all—to the overarching plot. The problem with most of these episodes was that, while they connect well to the repeated ideas of life and death, most of them lack any connection to the central storyline. Sometimes it feels like the series is just buying time, and to be honest, there are points where these episodes do drag a little bit. I wouldn't say they're “filler” episodes, but some of them do merit the question: “Did this really need to be here?”
In fairness, Casshern Sins does find its stride around episode 13, when the series switches to a continuous story thread that puts more focus on major plot points. But whether or not you can wait it out until then to see the pacing pick up is a different story. Even after that point, it's still a pretty slow-moving show, with many, many exchanges of dialogue, but the change from “gut-wrenchingly slow” to “slow but deliberate” is noticeable and welcoming once you get there.
To talk about the characters in Casshern Sins, it's necessary to know that the show features two different “sets” of characters: Episodic characters, who exist only in the context of one episode, and the main cast, who persist throughout the show. The episodic characters are generally well-written and given a lot of emotional appeal, but they suffer from the same problem I described above; that is, they connect to the show's themes, but not its story, and therefore some of them can end up feeling a little unnecessary. The main cast, on the other hand, features several memorable characters that get fully fleshed out as the series progresses. Casshern is the central figure for most character development. Whether Casshern is to be hated or sympathized with is a running argument throughout the show, and you can tell a lot about a character based on which side they take. As Casshern grows to learn more about his past and present, and develop thoughts of his own, this creates a sort of ripple effect in which the other characters change along with him. The central cast are all given appropriate backstories that are revealed at strategic points in the show, adding a sense of depth and believability to their personalities.
When it comes to visuals...man, I really need to stop reviewing Madhouse shows, because they're always great looking. Casshern Sins features extremely detailed background art that turns the world of robots and humans into a beautiful dystopia of vast deserts, barren mountains, and shining seas. When there is an oasis in the middle of this hellish world—a spot of pink and blue flowers, perhaps—it looks even more gorgeous by contrast. The art seems to echo the show's themes; everything that's still alive seems to be encircled by the empty land, besieged by death from every direction.
As mentioned earlier, the character designs in Casshern Sins are decidedly more “oldschool” than what most of us are probably used to. Most of the characters have sharper, thinner, more angular bodies than what's common nowadays, and in truly classic style, everyone seems to have ridiculously massive and spiky hair in every color of the rainbow. All gentle mockery aside, these designs look great; I always welcome a unique departure from the norm. Casshern himself seems almost iconic, a spot of white and red in a world that's completely black and brown.
Needless to say that Casshern Sins also has some great action sequences, which are lovingly animated. Casshern is an elegant killing machine who seems to almost dance while he's fighting, bringing a strange sort of beautiful brutality to the table. He pirouettes and spins, all while violently dismembering his opponents, splitting them in half, or ripping out pieces of their inner workings with his bare hands. The scenes of action are well-choreographed, a real treat to watch, and there's no shortage of them in the series.
Casshern Sins also shines in the sound department, where a beautiful orchestral soundtrack is used to great effect. Most of the songs feature string and wind instruments as the lead sounds, with an occasional chanted or choir element of background vocals. Despite the high quality of the soundtrack in general, I took some slight issues with two songs that occasionally play in the show: They have English lyrics, and pretty hammy ones, at that. While the singer (Nami Miyahara, who also voices a main character) has a great voice and puts in an admirable effort, she still sings with a noticeable Japanese accent. This, combined with the cheesiness of the lyrics, means that these songs will probably not have the intended effect on an audience of native English speakers. This is a relatively small complaint, and since English speakers were (obviously) not the originally intended audience of the show, it's really not anyone's fault, but it's there nonetheless.
Casshern Sins has a lot going for it—it boasts a great plot, mature themes, memorable characters, refreshing art, and a top-notch soundtrack. When it comes right down to it, I'd say that the only thing holding Casshern Sins back from true greatness is its pacing; it's the biggest flaw in an otherwise excellent series. Whether or not you're capable of enjoying this series is completely up to how patient you are. If you're the type that doesn't like to wait, and wants a story that's always in high gear, watching this would be a nightmare. But those with a high degree of tolerance for things that are slow to develop might find Casshern Sins to be well worth their time.
This series is very... depressing. It is not like the Casshern series that people expect, but in it's own right is well made. The first thing I would like to mention is that the artwork and music is superb. Watching anime, and then watching Casshern Sins is like going from a child's artwork to architectural blueprints/designs. The animation, art, and colors are very crisp and clean. Half the time, I was busy enjoying the artwork and the animations. Casshern is like looking at a work of art.
Despite that, the story at first was very depressing and slow. After
watching the series through a few more times, I found it to be a lot more entertaining and has a much more deeper meaning than what I originally thought.
The character development shines in this series. One can see the growth of the characters throughout the series.
One thing that I would not mind seeing is a prequel to the series, just to see what the world was like before the ruin and the different stories of the characters that you meet throughout the series.
Of course, if a prequel was made, I can see it being a lot more faster paced and more action oriented due to the period of time in the story, and the ideas that took place at that time (in the anime)
Overall, an enjoyable series. Probably not what people expect, but with the right mindset, can be a great series.
Beneath the flamboyant exterior of fast action fight scenes and fancy shot compositions are some deceptively introspective conversations and themes. The director of this series, Shigeyasu Yamauchi, also headed Kimi no Iru Machi, which stylishly explored the psychology of love. In Casshern Sins the central themes are death and hope.
The first episode establishes the premise with a satisfying level of badassery. In the distant future, Robots have evolved sentience, and can feel emotion like humans can. A global "Ruin"—with a capital R, implying that it's more than an action—was prompted when Casshern, a highly skilled and gaudily dressed
fighter, "killed the Sun named Moon." Now both humans and robots are on the brink of extinction.
The robots hadn't appreciated life until they knew that they’d die. Having been immortal up until the Ruin, knowing that their existence would soon end terrifies them. For some, particularly the humanoid robots, this fear is quelled by love, community bonds, or passionately engaging in their interests. For others, this fear is expressed violently through random acts of desperation and senseless cruelty.
Everyone except Casshern is affected by the Ruin. As the bodies of the other robots quickly deteriorate, Casshern's body remains new, and regenerates when it’s damaged. There’s a rumor that the one who "devours" Casshern will become immortal. Consequently, when many robots encounter Casshere and learn of his identity, they have no qualms with abandoning their humanity—so to speak—to seize an opportunity to regain their immortality.
By the halfway point, listening to bleak soliloquies on death, hope, and hopelessness became mildly taxing. To an extent, this is forgivable considering that death is a new experience for the robots. For beings abruptly faced with inevitable annihilation, a persistent trepidation is a natural reaction. Humans, despite experiencing death for around 200,000 years, still widely suffer from denial and death anxiety.
The sentimentality and melodrama are usually complemented with slow strings or an acoustic guitar. The action scenes are scored more aggressively, often utilizing tremolo strings or heavy horns like those heard in 90s historical-action. Sometimes there's no score at all, and the scene is simply textured with the ambient sounds of wind, rain, or debris.
The overall style is retro by 2016 standards, which is to be expected from a director who’s been in the anime industry since the 80s. Unfortunately, this old school style is accompanied by some unflattering old school stereotypes that may annoy empathetic viewers. The one prominently featured black character is a lustful degenerate, and the leading female characters are either manipulative or easily love struck. Even Ringo, an overly cute loli robot who looks like a 4 year old, fawns over Casshern when she first meets him.
Casshern Sins has brilliant ideas and beautiful animation that are hampered by repetition, occasional missteps in characterization, and some massive plot holes. The faults aren’t enough to ruin the viewing experience, but they do hold it back from being the psychological masterpiece that it could have been.
I will admit that my opinion of "Casshern: Sins" is somewhat biased by the fact that I watched and enjoyed the original 1973 anime "Shinzou Ningen (Neo Human) Casshern" first. Because of that I became more than a bit pissed off when I realized that "Sins" had absolutely _nothing_ to do with "Shinzou Ningen."
"Sins" is touted as a "remake" of the original series, but that's a fallacy. What it actually is, is a story so utterly disparate from the original that the use of familiar names and faces seems to have been the result of a combination of laziness on
the part of the designers and a desire to boost the initial viewership by feeding off of a pre-existing fandom. The characters who "return" in "Sins" are not at all like the ones they were cloned from - in Luna's case there is no similarity whatsoever, which is a shame, because Luna was my favorite character in "Shinzou Ningen."
Even when I cooled down and resolved to evaluate "Sins" on its own merits, rather than comparing it to "Shinzou Ningen," it still came up lacking. It seems as though the creators got together to come up with a collection of evocative images and scenes, and then strung them all together with a flimsy, poorly developed plot cluttered with ill-fitting elements. The anime is rife with trite symbolism, and does its level best to constantly hammer you with angst, without bothering to be remotely subtle in the execution of it.
Actually, there's a fundamental lack of subtlety on most levels of this story's execution; where it's most damaging though is that as the story progresses it becomes overwhelmingly preachy; and that, more than anything else, I could have done without.
Despite that, I can't exactly call it a _bad_ anime, I think anyone who likes this style of story will probably find it reasonably entertaining, and the art and animation _are_ beautiful, but if you're looking for a great anime, this isn't it.
It's a pity though; I would have loved to see what a faithful rendering of "Shinzou Ningen Casshern" would have looked like executed with modern storytelling aesthetics.
Super Heroes by now are a standard part of our lives, being adapted into thousands of films already, we are used to incredibly powerful men and women walking around in weird skintight clothes that are supposed to be their trademark. It has almost been done to death in western media and I myself am not a huge fan of those franchises either, with a few exceptions. In Anime though, while we have quite some superheroes, it is not nearly as much as in the western media and only few of them really rose to popularity in the Otaku Culture. Today I will Review an Anime
that is rather unknown to the masses, while still not disappointing in most parts. Casshern Sins is a Spin Off of the original Shinzou Ningen Casshern, which aired in 1974, meaning this show was goddamn old. It aired in 2009 and tells the story of an Alternative Universe.
Story: In this Alternative Universe, the world is almost only inhabited by Robots and the humans that once created those, became rare. This world is shown in a post apocalyptic state, where all the robots, which couldn't die due to them getting old earlier, now slowly ruin away. This Ruin heavily resembles rust and seems to work the same way as infirmity for humans. Here lives our main protagonist called Casshern. He is a robot that is immortal, immediately heals every time he is wounded and cannot decay like all the others Robots. There also are a lot of rumors around him, that if a robot would devour him, he would get the immortality that is Casshern's. Our protagonist though, doesn't know what happened to him and has no idea why he is immortal and where the Ruin comes from.
There actually is not a lot more to say about the plot, as it is rather simple and going deeper into it would result into spoilers. The thing that stands out though, is not the plot itself, but the Setting it is presented in. One thing has to be said though, being that this show is slow! For almost the whole show it moves forward so slow, at points it even gets a little boring. It actually takes the show 12 episodes before it gets a little faster, before it actually goes back into slow-motion mode again and decides that the fast pacing is something it doesn't like, before only getting a little faster in the final episodes. This is something that many people might find to be a problem with this show and something that turns away many. I myself didn't have any problems with that though and actually thought it fit the world rather well, but that is just preference and I can totally see why people might not like that.
Characters: For the majority of the show, it moves forward in a "Character of the Week"-Style and only goes away from it if it gets to a climax, which happens rarely due to the slow pacing. Every single episode, the show introduces a new Robot or Human, lets them interact with the main characters that are currently present, before either letting them stay, leaving them alone, or killing them off. It's a concept that quite some shows often use in a similar way, being the "monster of the week"-concept. A really popular Anime for this is the Mecha Deconstruction "Neon Genesis Evangelion", which introduces one enemy per episode and let's the three main characters kill them off at the end, before it goes into the actual main plot later on. Casshern Sins does the same thing with it's supporting cast. The thing that most shows that use this concept intend to do is get depth added to their own characters. Casshern Sins does this while also getting a little more into the Setting every single episode and every single episode that is used for a Supporting character in the end helps our main character realize the thing that the whole show wants to tell us, being that without death, life would not be livable
This concept is executed in such a good way, that every single episode we get a new character, that for the most time doesn't even show up anymore at all, that is either really likeable or just amazingly well written. Unfortunately this can not be said about all the main characters. More than once, I had the feeling that the supporting cast would be overshadowing the main characters by far. We do get development for every single one and a lot of depth of course, especially to Casshern, but all this doesn't help me to sympathize with the characters more and I feel like they were way to boring for the most part to actually make for a good cast. Leaving us with an amazing Supporting cast, while the main cast didn't succeed in convincing me of them being really interesting.
Art: The Art in Casshern Sins is, to leave it simple, amazing! It's another show where Studio Madhouse doesn't disappoint in just being awesome. The fighting scenes, which exist at least once per episode, look really good and are completely fluent. The coloring is for the most part beautiful and fits the dark atmosphere really well, while still featuring a lot of colors. The Characters Designs though, are something that I had my problems with, with it being really old school, since the characters were designed in 1974 already for the most part, which is not a style that I really like. That again is only preference and doesn't really matter for the overall enjoyment but rather is something that I didn't like myself.
Sound: The Soundtrack of Casshern Sins is something that I didn't realize during the first few episode, but that grew on me really fast. It mostly consists of really quite pieces, using a lot of guitar. It is used perfectly for the most part and one of the few songs in the Soundtrack that I actually didn't like was the only one that was not the opening or ending, was the only one using lyrics. The Openings and Endings though, were something that is in contrast to the OST itself actually...rather annoying. While the first Ending song was okay, I could stand neither the first Opening, which was plain annoying to me and the second ending, which I actually didn't watch a lot.
Casshern Sins is a show that is not for all people, featuring a pacing that is a lot slower than the pacing of most, but if you happen to like more than a few genres and are able to take things that are a little different from the usual shows, it definitely is worth checking out.
Now as I calculated all 5 scores that I have given (Story, Characters, Art, Sound and my personal Enjoyment), I give Casshern Sins a 7.96/10 as a show that pleased me, but not as much as others did! It currently is available for legal Streaming on FUNimations web page, if you happen to live in a country where you have access to that particular Stream (Other than me '-.-). It also has been licensed by FUNimation if you happen to live in America, and by Manga for the Europeans.
With that I hope I could help you and I'll see you next time!
Casshern Sins feels like watching two different shows at once. I like the first half, not so hot on the second.
The First half is a very Samurai Jack-esque formula and for those of you who haven't seen Samurai Jack what I mean by that is a lone warrior (in this case Casshern) thrown into a world he doesn't fully understand (because he has amnesia in this instance) while meeting interesting one-off characters every episode. It's less about the story itself and about exploring this world and the different ways everyone deals with what is basically the robot apocalypse (and the world is already pretty messed
up to begin with). My favorite episode is probably episode 2, which is about a community of robots that decide to peacefully accept their death until...well obviously I'm not gonna spoil it but it gives great insight into the tragedy of our main character: Casshern.
Casshern is an interesting character, at the beginning of the series we learn that he's an amnesiac robot. The only three things he knows for sure is that A: He is the one who caused the ruin (that robot apocalypse I talked about earlier) B: His name is Casshern. And C: Most robots believe that if they kill and consume him that they'll then become immortal and able to withstand the ruin. As he ventures across the landscape his character arc revolves around him learning and coming to terms with the fact that he's a killing machine.
There's also a host of side characters including: Ringo: An optimistic little girl robot. Ohji: The Robot Engineer that watches over Ringo like a parent or guardian. Lyuze: A female robot who vows revenge against Casshern since he apparently caused her sister's death. Friender: Just an awesome robot dog. He's the Rush to Casshern's Megaman, that's all you need to know.
"So you like the formula that the show's using and there's a host of interesting side characters, so why did you say that you only liked half of the series?" I hear you cry. Well that's where the second half of the series comes in.
About halfway through the show the writers suddenly remembered that they had a plot and decided to focus on that, this is where the show falls apart. Not everything is explained and the things that are aren't explained well. The main premise of the show aka the fact that there's "The Ruin" that's killing robots is going on isn't even all that well explained. The Ruin is just...the robots rusting until their body parts and insides start deteriorating. And that sucks but...did that not happen before? Were these robots literally immortal before that? Never explained. And it's like this for most plot points, it's vaguely explained but never really delved into, especially when it comes to the Luna situation. Why did killing her specifically make the ruin happen, what was special about her? (This isn't a spoiler by the way.) Why can Friender withstand the ruin? This isn't a spoiler or a reveal, he can just do that...deal with it.
Both the Animation and Sound Design are great, the actions scenes are pretty damn smooth. But I've never been all that critical of Animation or Sound design anyway so don't take my word on that part.
Despite I this I still think the show is overall worth it. The first half more often than not makes up for the lackluster second half, with it's interesting one-off characters and self contained stories about people's unique reactions when confronted with an inevitable death. It's just a shame that most of the intrigue of the first half is wasted so badly.
This anime caused me a headache, especially when wondering if I should review it or not. After all, my opinion was changing with every episode, and quite drastically most of time. Hence why this review will be fairly short in comparison to my usual walls of text.
The very first seconds of the anime made me cringe. The drawing style. Oh, at this very early stage I could tell the series will equal a torture for I'm very sensitive when it comes to art. It got me wondering how did I end up having Casshern on my planning-to-watch list at all. First, I tried to justify
it being old, as the style resembles ol' good mecha animes television was filled with when I was little. But checking the dates on MAL told me the anime was not /so/ old. Did it try to mimic those old animes, being based on one? Was such style chosen to set the atmosphere? I don't even care, as I found the art horrible and no excuse would fix it. Sorry, old school fans. It goes back to my childhood and mecha animes on television that I completely detested.
In fact, my opinion about mechas had not changed ever since, and so the beginning for the first episode nearly made me cry out loud, again wondering how did this thing sneak into my sacred list of animes I'm yet to find. The second thought was making a relation to Power Rangers. Don't ask, I don't even know. But I've buckled up, mostly led by my OCDs that suggest I complete every anime I start, and carried on. First few episodes were making me acknowledge the problem I have, as I swear, watching this anime was very difficult for someone like me. But eventually I started getting deeper into it. I enjoyed a concept of few small stories, especially about the girl who loved to fight. That very episode was the breaking point for me, when I finally started understanding the anime was not as simple as I thought and there were a lot of messages hidden along the lines. This is when I started paying more attention to the things said rather than how they were drawn. Although, I admit, I struggled with the art for the entire series.
The sound was alright. I can't say I was particularly fond of any of the soundtracks, but they did not irritate me either. As I've watched the subbed version, I had a grip of the translations of both, opening and ending lyrics, which, I'd say, matched the theme of the anime itself. That's a plus, really - most of time lyrics of the soundtracks are hardly related to the series. The tracks within the anime itself were well timed and suited the situations. But that's pretty much all I can say about it.
The characters were truly the best thing about Casshern Sins. The mains were given a proper development, as much as it was possible with not too many episodes. The supporting characters that Casshern would encounter once and never again were the ones that deserve all of my praises. They were a living example of the struggles we all go through at some point of our lives, offering to see how do our feelings and actions differ from how we see them and how do others perceive them. Although, they were being shaped as the robots and were hidden in tangles of metaphors not everyone can make out, therefore this anime is meant for the audience that likes to think. Otherwise, it will leave an impression of a weird and incoherent anime that makes no sense. I especially loved the concept of Luna and how the world perceived her existence and how that perception differed from her own. Again, for the ones who expected some mecha fights that require no second thought it'd make no sense, but if viewed as a piece that requires deep insights, Luna's phenomenon leaves you thinking about yourself and the world for a long time after you finish the anime.
It's still difficult to say how do I feel about this anime. It was a difficult watch, mostly because of my preferences in regards of art and not being a fan of mechas and post-apocalyptic settings. I did enjoy it to some extent, that's for sure. But in the same time I was not drawn in enough to stop noticing things that bugged me and occasionally I'd start regretting giving the series a go all over again.
Overally, I must say Casshern Sins is definitely a good anime that makes you think. It wasn't as action packed as I thought it will be, but I'm only grateful for that. If not for the deep ideas it harboured, I'd have a REALLY bad time watching it. Now, time would go past a bit faster as I'd be spotting the subliminal messages and decoding them. I guess I was mostly getting put off when those things were lacking. I don't think I'll ever rewatch the anime. If the offered ideas were presented in different settings, I would definitely return to it. Sadly, they are not.
If you are familiar with Neon Genesis, then you should probably understand this somewhat of a deconstruction anime which features a sad cruel world worthy of a post anime depression syndrome.
While its predecessor was focus on a power ranger plot, this one is a whole different story, in which, the protagonist is wandering in seach for someone in a desolated world. You see a beautiful scenery at times due to its great animation, but this would make you even sadder since there is a lots of variety of deserts and grey colors show throughout to indicate: this is not about happiness.
To top it off, it
has very good soundtracks which eludes a feeling of hope even though both robots and humans of the world are constantly dying while the ones still living are struggling to survive. This sort of show appeals to me due to its focus on storytelling and a consistent throughout. There are fight scenes, but even these are not as great compare to the popular series of its time. Its mainly the fact that it explores characters desires and goals and in the end, you realized there is not real antagonist.
In conclusion, if you are able to shoulder the emotion of sadness and tragedy while looking for good storytelling, this is one worth watching.
Despite being a remake to a kitschy 70’s anime “classic,”Casshern Sins begins promisingly. In the first few episodes, the creators lay out a post-apocalyptic setting that manages to feel both unabashedly retro and grimly bleak at the same time. The resulting mix of camp and angst is weirdly intriguing, especially when the solid supporting characters and mysterious titular protagonist are factored in.
Sadly, Casshern Sins fails to live up to its initial promise due to its unfocused overarching narrative. Rather than develop any core theme in the early to middle stages, the series meanders among flavor-of-the-week plots and half-hearted attempts at a main story. After countless
thematically tangential episodes, the anime barely has room to resolve its main plotline and is forced to squeeze a half-hearted conclusion into the final few episodes. The final episodes seem to assert that death is needed to make life worth living. However, the distracted narrative and conflicting themes beforehand causes this moralizing to feel hollow and unconvincing by the time the creators decide to tack it to the end. At the end of the series, Casshern Sins doesn’t feel like it was ever actually about anything, and this is perhaps its greatest flaw.
The anime’s plot is further diluted by lame fight scenes that lack context or relevance. In many occasions, a group of mooks will simply appear in the middle of an episode to suicidally impale themselves on Casshern’s foot. These scenes appear to have been inserted to please the action junkies, but the problem is that Casshern Sins tries to be something more than just another shounen action show. By mixing mindless action with serious science-fiction, the anime fails to appeal to fans of either.
Still, in spite of all these weaknesses, the series is not without merit. Casshern Sins’ main strengths lie not in the actual meat of the plot, but in the assorted one-shot episodes that pepper the overarching narrative. While they disrupt the flow of the actual story, many of the disjointed plotlines are well-written enough to be entertaining in their own right. Granted, not all of the self-contained stories are good, but others are genuinely compelling. This alone prevents Sins’ story from being an outright failure.
Fortunately, Casshern Sins has an excellent idea of what it wants to look like, if not what it wants to be about. Put simply, the style of the series' dystopian setting is wonderful.Casshern Sins uses carefully chosen color schemes and crisp animation all to great effect, and the final visual package is one of the most impressive I've seen this year. A particularly impressive aspect of the visual package is the dramatic use of light in just about every scene. It's not Makoto Shinkai obsessive, but the shadows drawn across the hero's face do a lot to darken the mood.
Voice acting as a whole is uneven. The protagonist’s seiyuu is so hideously terrible that I genuinely wondered if he was trying to sound wooden on purpose, while some of the supporting roles turn in excellent work. On the other hand, the background music is almost universally excellent. The music grimly underscores the anime’s bleak mood without ever becoming a distraction. The soundtrack’s one flaw is its frequent repetition, but this never becomes too much of a problem.
In addition to the haphazard plot and the hamfisted ending, the creators botch the characterization on nearly every major player in the show. Casshern himself is the most egregious example; his deadpan voice acting, terrible dialogue and unconvincing development combine to form one of the most ineffective protagonists that I've ever seen. Dio and Leda, the two main villains, are almost as bad; not only are their motivations left woefully unexplained, they're just flat-out boring characters.
Fortunately, some of the supporting characters fare better; Lluyze in particular is a welcome exception to the bad characterization. Casshern Sins dedicates an entire episode to dissecting her psyche in a weird and decidedly Freudian fashion, and the result is arguably the highlight of the show. Sadly, she is a comparatively minor character and simply can't carry the show on her own.
Overall, I enjoyed myself as I was watching and in particular liked the one-shot episodes, which at times evoke the amazing work done in Kino's Journey. However, the turgid overarching narrative, the bad characters and the incompetent ending make me wonder if these scattered episodes were enough to make the series actually worth my time.
Casshern Sins is at times a masterpiece, and at times barely tolerable. Maybe that's a weird way to start a review for an anime I'm ultimately going to give a pretty good score to, but you need to know right now.
The story begins on what I could consider a very interesting (if painstakingly slow) note. Casshern wakes up in a world that has barely survived some kind of apocalypse. He's set upon by robots trying to kill him and even eat him, blaming him for the world's end and in some cases believing that consuming him will grant them immortality. He, in fairly common anime
fashion, remembers nothing and finds all of this incredibly shocking. Nonetheless, he is an efficient and remarkable killing machine and is frequently able to easily defend himself from these attacks as he wanders the wasteland. But why is there a wasteland? Why are so many robots after him? What happened to humanity? What is The Ruin, and why is Casshern immortal and immune to it?
These (and more) are all questions that are slowly, SLOWLY answered over the course of the 24 episodes. And in case I wasn't clear enough, I mean SLOWLY. Casshern Sins moves at a snail's pace, if that snail had to constantly stop and ask for directions. But surprisingly, this works to the series' strength at times. The visuals are stunning and the anime does a terrific job of totally immersing you in the world you're given. Speaking of, that world is bleak an unrelenting. Happy endings are scarce in Casshern Sins, and the ones that do come are still often more bitter than sweet. But in my opinion, this works. And while Casshern's character does frequently devolve into "staring at hands and wracked with guilt," seeing the world through his eyes makes for an interesting reveal of the apocalypse and a decent narrative. The supporting cast is also surprisingly well-developed - Lyuze, Oji and the villains Dio and Leda all make for compelling stories of their own. In time, of course. The except to this is Ringo, a pretty annoying cutesy girl character who seemingly serves no purpose. Still, none of this really changes the fact that for a significant portion of the anime, nothing happens. The first season really moves at a crawl that cannot be avoided, no matter how invested you are.
But in the second season, things REALLY pick up. Not only do Casshern and the gang finally start to make progress towards a real goal on their quest, but a true looming threat begins to approach in the form of Dio and his army. The storytelling also improves significantly, culminating in many memorable episodes. In particular, "The Glass Cradle" and "The Time I've Lived and the Time I Have Left" are some of my favorite anime episodes of all time. Many things are implied without being outright stated, which I value tremendously. The show uses clever and patient pacing combined with powerful visuals to really bring things to a head, leaving you clamoring for more while also being quite satisfied at the end of episode 23.
But then the final episode happens. The final episode of Casshern Sins feels like a spit in the face for all the hard work you've done to make it through the anime. It's a bigger betrayal than Brutus stabbing Caesar. I seriously can't believe that somebody, let alone an entire anime production team, decided that episode 24 was a good follow-up to episode 23. It's not just a bad ending. It's a truly horrendous ending that also mars any moral or philosophical conclusions the show might have been able to come to.
Casshern Sins is not for everyone. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't even for most people. But it does so many things so well that I can't NOT tell people to at least try it. It asks many poignant questions, but ultimately fails to answer them in a satisfying or even interesting way. There are plot points that are also just seemingly forgotten or that truly go nowhere, and again the ending really renders so much invalid. The ending of the story also really drags this anime down. What makes a lot of the emotional moments in the later arc so good is that you really feel you're going to get a conclusion, a light at the end of the tunnel. When that didn't come, I was pissed. I've never finished an anime I enjoyed so much and actually just sat, flabbergasted, throughout an entire final episode while actually saying aloud "Is this really what's happening? Why?" And perhaps it seems like I'm harping on the disappointing finale a bit too much. But it truly undermines so much of what makes the show great than I would argue I actually can't stress it enough!
But whatever. At this point, I can hear you groaning. "Uggg, NeoSeth, just tell me, is Casshern Sins worth watching?" Yes. Is it enjoyable? Very, very much so, if you like a slow burning show and can subsist on great visuals and animation for a few episodes. But it's not for everyone, and ends disappointingly. I highly recommend you check it out, but don't be surprised if it breaks your heart (in more ways than one).